I must confess that I am (unashamedly) a major fan of Steinbrüchel, having been around for several years now with a steady stream of releases, his reputation and command of the medium, see him rising to pole position as one of the masters of minimalist electronica in the world today. This, his second release for Room 40, following on from Opaque, sees well established formulas being refined, reconfigured and re-invented.
Previous works based on pin-drop minimalism, generally suspended over rich, resonant layerings have been the order of the day, but Basis sees him reworking material by other artists, to create a fuller, warmer sound, more alive, more spacious.
The INTERLUDE pieces, 1- 4 are based on Happiness Will Befall, by Room 40’s Lawrence English. The liner notes suggest that this was originally a guitar piece, yet subjected to Steinbrüchel’s processing, sounds like a glockenspiel..these are evanescent pieces, that are at once distilled and reduced into subtle dreamscapes, underpinned with a sustained tonal wash..THESE 1 & 2 are re-worked from guitar pieces by Ben Frost..THESE 1 opens with crackling, static layerings – a visceral blanket that at first appears sparse, but on subsequent listens, reveals a wealth of activity compressed into a singular frequency range, much like Bernhard Gunther’s Monochrome White release on L-NE. This slowly billows, and dissipates, and as it unfolds, a sedate guitar refrain is heard low in the mix, endlessly looping and hypnotic. FALTER is based on piano pieces by Bernd Schurer, once again, subjected to Steinbr} chel’s manipulation, appears more like an organ or a keyboard. This is an evenly paced, gaseous soundscape, peppered, by degrees with shards of overlapping keyboard, a gentle, insistent chorus that is gently enveloped with reverb, to engender a vaporous, swirling mass, that gradually and entropically decays and condenses to a singular, digital tone.
Basis is arguably one of Steinbrüchel’s more accessible recordings of the last few years, and is a worthy addition to the Room 40 roster. It stands as testament to his widening repertoire, and reaffirms a total mastery of restraint and subtlety.. absolutely essential. BGN